Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
The Tone Curve panel gives us another way to modify the color and tone of our photographs whether, to correct or enhance or just apply a creative effect. Let's take a look at how we can work with the Tone Curve panel. You'll notice I have this demo grayscale file open. I find it helpful to create grayscale files whenever there's a new control or a new panel that I don't understand in Lightroom, to create that file and then bring it into Lightroom and make changes, to kind of that teach myself how do these controls actually work? Let's take a look at how they work while working on this file.
When I hover over this Curve window, you'll notice that different areas of this curve are highlighted. You may also notice that down below one of these controls will be illuminated. Here I am in the shadows, the darker side of the grayscale, and then as I move up, the darks, the lights, and then the highlights. In this area you also notice the cursor changes. Well, if I move over a specific part of the image, I can click and drag up or down just to the limits of that grayed-out or highlighted area. So what's the deal with that? What's that all about? Well, what this allows you to do is to make adjustments that aren't incredibly drastic.
They're relatively limited to that area. Now it gets a little complicated when you mix, say, another adjustment and then perhaps another, and you can see how all of these curves are connected. Yet primarily, it's limited to these highlighted areas. In other words, you can make adjustments without doing too much damage. All right! Well, what about resetting things? You can reset these controls by double- clicking them, just like we can in other panels. Now you'll notice that we have these four quadrants and these dividers here. What are those? Well, if we make an adjustment, say, to highlights, we can have that adjustment have a broader effect by clicking and dragging and pulling this over.
Notice now much more of the image is white than was before. So now my highlight quadrant, well, it's huge, and it's huge because I changed it by moving this divider here. Double-click those and you can reset those as well. All right! One more thing to talk about here with this curve, and that is the Targeted Adjustment tool. Click on the Targeted Adjustment tool, top-left corner, hover over the image, and now all of a sudden you can see it's highlighting the different areas of your image. Now this is pretty cool because it allows you to just visually make changes.
It takes the guesswork out of are these my darks or my shadows? Just position over that area, click and drag up or down and make a change. All right! Well, what else can we do with the Tone Curve? Well, we can also go to what's called the Point Curve. This is where things get really interesting. In the Point Curve, we now have curves in this latest version of Lightroom which are very similar to Photoshop. Take a look. I can click on this curve and drag up and keep dragging and keep dragging and keep dragging.
I can make really drastic and dramatic adjustments. I can also add multiple points to my curve. And I can click to add these points so that I can have precise control over different parts of the curve. And you can see I am doing that as I am making adjustments here. Now here I am making really drastic and dramatic adjustments. So what's interesting about this is we now have a little bit more power and also precision with this dialog. To remove points, click and drag those to the right or the left, and you can just pull those straight off of this curve line here. All right! We also have a Targeted Adjustment tool.
Click on it, position over the image, you notice that it tracks with that curve line there. We can see where that is if you look at the curve in the panel. Drag up or down, set another point, and you can move through your image this way making adjustments as needed. The other thing that's powerful about this is if we have highlights which we can't recover very well, we can use this top highlight point and bring that down. This can save the day with certain photographs. We can do the same thing with shadows. We can bring that shadow point, if we click all the way on it--I missed it there. Let me grab it. Click all the way on that, we can drag that up or deepen it for that matter.
The other thing that we can do is we can actually get to our three different color channels. Click on the Channel Picker and you have Red, Green, and Blue options. Perhaps you know that if you go to the Red channel and click and drag up, the image becomes more red. Drag in the opposite direction and it's cyan. So we can change the color and tone of our image. We can also go to the Green channel. That's green/magenta, green one way, magenta the other, and then blue/yellow and blue one way and then yellow the other way.
This can help us come up with creative effects, where we can correct our images in interesting ways, and these different curve controls, well, they just give us access to making changes in a new way. There isn't necessarily one approach which is best, meaning should I use the Point Curve versus this curve? Well, of course, it depends on what you want to accomplish. So in the next few movies, let's take a look at how we can modify a few images using the Tone Curve panel.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 69338 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 91612 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 60010 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 28657 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.